One of the key metrics for an effective HR operation in 2020 was the successful transition to the home office. The not-so-smart companies were satisfied because the process somehow succeeded. Smart firms were not happy initially; they reserved judgment until receiving the first work efficiency data, and only smiled when the results proved positive. But what did the really smart companies do? Those who not only wanted to survive the crisis but who wanted access to development information that they could never obtain before?
The really smart ones
Overall, the efficiency data about working from home turned out to be surprisingly positive. Despite the fear about the whole transition, most companies handled it quickly and successfully. As of May, very few companies existed who could not solve this problem. By the end of June, some companies, instead of rejoicing (or at least right after rejoicing), started to wonder how it all could have gone so smoothly. How can it be that efficiency had not deteriorated and even increased in some places? There are companies where the determined HR leaders started to delve deeper into this; there are others where, during the HR celebration, the company management took a look at this fact and tried to find clear answers to the question. Even if we are the CEO or HR head, why crash the party? Why can’t we be happy that our company, management, and employees took on this task so admirably? Yes, the attitude itself is quite pessimistic. Or is it more realistic? Curiosity — what we call this phenomenon — centres around why every business spends a lot of money to create a properly motivating work environment for its employees, or to train its managers to motivate their people as much as possible. They hold corporate events, engage in employee branding, build motivation systems, and yet there is now a situation where employees do better without all this. So, the activities, motivational elements, and everything we spend so much money on: are they all a waste of money? Because it really seems so! Strong work from home efficiency home bolsters this finding. However, this is a serious lesson for company executives, as it touches on future business planning, workforce management strategy, and many more related areas. What if these facts are really lessons, and indeed, we need to carry out a complete structural transformation of the organisation based on these lessons? What if tons of money really does just flow out of the hands of companies? What if workers simply needed to be able to do their work in peace? And how can they be “left alone” so that they can work the same way as they do now at home? Very smart companies see that as a result of the COVID crisis, the amount of solvent demand is sure to decrease for years. Markets will shrink, and competition will intensify as a result. So, they see perfectly well that their costs need to be reduced if they want to remain competitive and continue to make a profit. So, this topic is very not incidental, because human costs often represent an outsized part of the cost structure, at least in companies where the transition to the home office was possible at all. Let’s mention a few such areas. IT, telco, banking, and insurance are those sectors where human cost is the largest part of the total budget. But I could also list the industries where this home office phenomenon can be a serious cost-saving lesson for business owners and managers.
Banging our heads against the wall
Of course, a good manager knows that if they want sustainable development in the long run, if they want to make an excellent decision, they can’t rush, they can’t run headfirst into the wall! They need data to confirm or dismiss their logic. Yes, but it’s simply tough to find usable data on this topic. Why is this so? The vast majority of companies, almost 100% of them, decided at the onset of the crisis to suspend all business development and organisational development programmes. Very few would have thought around March-April, or even months later, that the current situation was the perfect time to take advantage of market competition and start developing now. Very few organisations surveyed their employees during this period; there were very few evaluations, or at least opinion polls, about their thinking and the rationale behind their decisions. In addition, corporate/internal questionnaires and opinion polls are not worth much in this situation, as they are seldom honest. Not because workers are unreliable or dishonest with their employers, but just think for a second about how dependable an answer is in a situation where 400 million jobs worldwide were lost in three months. Some external factors might have affected responses. But this is where objective organisational development companies come into play, as they are not under anyone’s influence. But as just as I mentioned, these were the first costs that companies cut as the crisis took hold. So, there is not really a relevant calculation, research, or analysis based on real experience that shows the real picture. Or maybe there are, since work has not stopped at the consulting companies that run complex business development programmes, but has instead grown intensively during this period. When a business development consulting firm manages a company’s business strategy, organisational development, communication work, sales management, product concepts, and more, the COVID crisis only strengthened the relationship between the business developer and its partner.
Complex business development consultants
There are business development consulting firms that developed over the last decade by first focusing on local markets, and they now carry out comprehensive, complex development projects for partners in several countries. Their partners are composed of two main groups. The first consists of local companies with serious development potential and want to enter the international market when they reach the right development point, so they are thinking about expansion. They can do it because their knowledge, products, and related services are internationally unique. The other main group comprises companies — international companies and local giants — who are disappointed with the template services provided by BIG 4 consulting companies. They are dissatisfied with the summaries, which they bought for serious sums, that land in the drawer, summaries that are generally appealing in scope but are worthless to the company in practical terms.
Well, these companies engaged in very serious, intensive work in 2020. In general, they grew significantly in revenue and even more regarding their market position during this period, as they did not stop, but instead conducted serious, often unscheduled, organisational development programmes. They analysed the organisation’s members, examined home office conditions, and have a specific assessment of why work efficiency did not deteriorate or even increased during the COVID crisis. Of course, these studies represent a serious value that will be one of the best-selling products for these companies in 2021, making it difficult to get information. However, we have partnered with one such company, and we received important information from their analyses that can provide clear answers to the above questions for company executives and business owners regarding human resource costs. From the outset, DECISION Magazine has partnered with these types of consulting firms worldwide, precisely to provide you, the reader, with relevant, real-world answers to issues like this. We have now involved one of the most important experts on this topic to prepare this article series.
Mentors & Partners Group manages complex business development programs in several countries, focusing on North America, South America, and the EU. The consulting firm, which is gaining strength in the EU, has managed 118 organisational development programmes since March 2020 (during COVID), in which they performed complex personality and behaviour analyses. Employees were evaluated for their decision-making mechanisms, changes in their personality and behaviour during organisational development projects, and based on this, they built organisational development plans. 84,782 employees, including company owners, company executives, and office workers, were surveyed using the RISE personality and behaviour analysis system, and from this, they could identify clear norms and patterns for organisational development.
We will report on these results in the next part of this series.